You’ve probably heard all about the benefits of breastfeeding—it’s a wonderful opportunity for mom and baby to bond and breastmilk is an excellent source of nutrition and natural immunities. It’s true that breastmilk is the perfect food for your little one, but if you opt to bottle-feed or nursing just doesn’t work out, rest assured, formula can be beneficial for baby, too.
Whether you’ve bottle-fed from birth or your baby is a little older now and you’re ready to make the switch, bottle-feeding can require some adjustments for both you and your baby. Here’s how to get a successful start.
Unless you’ve bought the pricier, pre-mixed formula, you’re going to have a little prep work to do!
Powdered and liquid from-concentrate formulas need to be liquefied or diluted before your baby can enjoy them.
If you know that your city’s water supply is low in pollutants and chemicals that could be harmful to your baby, mixing with tap water is fine. If you normally drink bottled water and wish to mix the formula with that instead, you may want to opt for a freestanding or fridge dispenser that will both simplify and shorten the bottle-making process.
If the formula has been in the refrigerator, you’ll need to warm it—heat a bowl of water in the microwave or on the stove and then place the bottle in the water to warm. Don’t ever put the bottle itself in the microwave, which could cause hot spots that might scald your baby’s mouth.
Make sure the formula is not too hot by testing a few drops on your wrist (it’s more sensitive to heat than your hands or fingertips). The formula’s temperature should feel comfortably warm, but not hot.
The bottle is ready to go and it’s time for baby to eat, but not before you’re comfortable and relaxed.
Make sure you’re completely settled before beginning to feed—it’s good for baby to eat without any major interruptions.
Try your best to eliminate possible distractions and loud noises so that your baby can feel at ease while she eats.
Have your burp cloth ready! If you must stand while bottle-feeding, try swaying slightly from side to side to ease baby and keep your feet from getting tired.
Make the most of all your baby’s eating opportunities—it’s the perfect time for some mommy-baby bonding.
Hold your baby securely and stabilize her head in the bend of your arm. Never prop baby’s bottle, no matter how tempting some hands-free time may be.
Coax the nipple into your baby’s mouth and bring the bottle to a slight angle to allow for ample formula flow. The nipple and neck of the bottle should always be full to avoid air bubbles. If it sounds like your little one is gulping, she’s probably getting too much air and not enough milk, so you’ll need to readjust the bottle’s positioning.
A normal feeding should take upwards of 20 minutes, but don’t be alarmed if your baby eats more slowly and takes a half hour or longer.
Remember to burp baby promptly after she’s finished feeding! Built-up air bubbles in the belly make for a fussy bambina.